PLATTSBURGH — Breaking down the blockades to education allows North Country Mission of Hope to achieve real change in Nicaragua.
“That’s how they rise out of poverty,” mission grant writer Carol Herring said. “Education is the key.”
Food, she said, is at the root of bolstering education there.
Mission of Hope feeds around 6,500 children a day in Nicaragua at nearly 30 schools. Volunteers from the United States are in the country for a total five months of the year, and the organization experienced its largest period of growth in 2016, Herring said.
The re-approval of the food grants means Mission of Hope will help deliver, as in 2016, three 40-foot containers of 830,000 meals from Stop Hunger Now and one container of over 277,000 meals from Feed My Starving Children.
Executive Director Sister Debbie Blow said the mission focuses on having “a sustained impact,” rather than only a Bandaid fix, for the communities it serves.
That impact is twofold, she said.
“One, that people know that we know they’re alive and they matter. Second, is the impact of hope.
“Those have to be at the heart of anything we do.”
The group helps boost personal responsibility and quality of life in Nicaragua, she said, but it also leaves its volunteers changed, too.
“They are becoming more socially conscious,” she said. “Your mission really begins when you return here.”
Veterans of the group have taken on heftier volunteering in their own communities, which makes sense to Blow.
After all, she said, but for happenstance, any one of them could be that child in Nicaragua.
And many who can’t or choose not to travel with Mission of Hope to the Central American country find ways to offer support locally.
Vital are the volunteers who give time at MOHTown, the mission’s warehouse in Schuyler Falls, where they help with organizing, cataloging and packing donations large and small, led by Jimmy Dumont and Paul Green.
“It’s an amazing service they do there,” Blow said in a recent email, inviting new volunteers to pitch in.
MOHTown, located at 970 Route 22B, is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays.
A group of almost 40 will head to Nicaragua for the annual February mission, where the volunteers will tackle efforts including building home shelters; handing out packages of rice and beans and providing medical outreach care to folks in remote barrios; and making repairs at schools and hospitals.
They will also unload a container from Stop Hunger Now carrying food for the meal program, Blow said.
—News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.
HOW TO HELP
Mission of Hope is supported by donations and grants.
To give, send checks to: NC Mission of Hope, P.O. Box 2522, Plattsburgh NY 12901.
Make a note on the memo line if you want the gift to go to a specific purpose, for example the school meal program or student sponsorship.
Also, mission volunteer Anne Selkirk has written a children’s picture book, “Bluga and Killa,” with all proceeds, about $4 per book, going to Mission of Hope. The cost is $15 each.
To order, email Blow: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Mission of Hope at its newly revamped website: ncmissionofhope.org